Proud to be British?

A group of young men and women all watch the news excitedly as the action unfolds on their TVs. Dressed in their finest they call their friends to find out where they’ll be and when, and if they need to bring anything with them. This is the event of the year. The weather is on their side, and they’re sure the celebrations will last all night. Their parents are happy their little babies are getting involved and excited over something. This feeling is echoed all over the country, in home and on streets in the big cities and the small towns. They walk out onto the streets, provisions in hand, expecting to party hard.

This could be a happy description of April this year, when the country united to celebrate the Royal Wedding. But instead it’s a description of the last few nights of unrest and rioting in the cities. It all started with a young black man, Mark Duggan, being shot by police. Did he have a gun in his hand? That’s still to be determined. The protest which followed was the catalyst to mindless rioting by thugs.

But it seems to me as if these people are just looting and rioting in order to belong to something. This country always goes in feet first for the World Cup and the Royal Weddings and Funerals. It’s all about being one of a part of something bigger. I work in a shop which sells celebration-ware. I was astounded, before the Royal Wedding, by the amount of people who all of a sudden wanted to buy bunting!

The rioting in London, however, is unfortunately explainable in part. London is a hugely mult cultural city. People have moved from other countries and settled here for a better life. These people don’t feel like the UK is their home. It’s just home for now. And so without these emotional ties to the country they don’t have a feeling that they are smashing up their homes or their country. They’re making a point and these streets are their sacrifice, in order to make their point about how their race is treated by the police here. But after the initial riots in London, other people saw it as an excuse to be part of something, be noticed and get out their frustrations and boredom. Yes, there is a reason for the phrase ‘mob mentality’ and that has a part to play for the riots spreading, but certainly it seemed like a fun club for many.

So take somewhere like Birmingham as an example. Here the youths are British. Granted, their parents or grandparents may have moved here from other countries for pastures green, years ago, but this is not the case for these kids rioting. So then it boils down to these kids destroying their own towns. Towns of which if there was a football game, they would be fiercely defending.  So, let’s try to explain that. Think of a little kid who throws a tantrum. He runs to his room, picks up his toy and throws it at the wall, smashing it beyond repair. What do you think of this child? Are they looking for attention? Yes! So if you consider that in the circumstance we’re faced with today, we might consider that these kids are just looking for attention. The riots are mostly very young children, bored, restless and with nothing to do in the summer holidays. Kids, masked to hide their identities, admit that they’re there for the money and stock. Video of a man, bleeding from the face, helped up by a gang of boys, unaware that as he’s been helped to his feet, others are stealing from the bag on his back, items which are then discarded further up the street.

Locally I knew there would be something happening last night. Milton Keynes has a huge percentage of 14-21 year olds, and I know how this town works. The police were out in force last night to prevent any real damage. Fake rumours spread like fire over the internet claiming riots and smashed shops. But it was still nerve-wracking to have a helicopter hovering over my house for two hours. This morning I heard that a pub called the Norman King was burned down in Dunstable last night. This pub hosted my Godson’s christening reception party a few years ago. A nice, 18th Century pub burned down in the name of a laugh. What strikes me is that, although Dunstable has a reputation for violence and fights, there is still a strong sense of Dunstable pride from those people, including the trouble makers. Violence there always seemed to be a personal affair and not an affront to the town. I can imagine the arsonists, in this case, thought they were just having a laugh, and chose a non trendy, not threatening and non-pikey pub.

This whole affair has saddened my heart. I felt nervous in my own home last night, knowing that 70 youths were walking down my road looking for trouble. I feel ashamed to be British. People getting the news of these events from across the pond are all asking the same questions because they don’t understand what’s happening. Well neither do we, but I hope this might help to give them a sense of the confusion we’re dealing with here. Why do people think it’s acceptable to smash into and then steal from shops, when they would never have had the guts to walk into an open shop and steal from it then?

Our country has been shamed by those who will inherit it. A sobering thought.

4 thoughts on “Proud to be British?

  1. I wish you could explain this to James Whale on his radio show LBC. You are totally correct in your assessment: people do not feel a part of this society, they don’t have any stake so of course, when people say ‘ they are destroying their own community’ those people don’t realise that the rioters have never seen it as their own anyway. As someone from Tottenham, sitting in the local library writing this, knowing that I have to wade through the camera crew that are hanging around outside, I really wish people would get it and not have to constantly give out stats just to make a point.

    1. I’m glad you agree, and I really hope things settle down for you there. Maybe you should tell the camera crews what you think when you leave! Journalists keep asking the same questions but ignoring the answers because they’re a. actually powerless to help and b. if it’s explained away, they’d have nothing to report. Sad times we live in.

  2. Thanks but do you really think Britain is multicultural? I think it’s an ‘idea’ that has been sold to us which we have bought. As a French journalist was asked what they thought of the riots they said: the English has managed to make a certain section of society to be proud of their ignorance and proud of being working class. I believe this same concept can be applicable to the black community, that we have been made to believe that we are part and parcel of British society, but after the riots in ’85 and now makes me believe that ‘multiculturalism’ is not real, when it comes down to it. The different vigilante groups who are threatening to protect themselves and their communities prove that ‘they’ don’t and perhaps never did believe in multiculturalism.

    1. I certainly believe that the UK is multicultural in it’s literal sense. When I was at school it was very rare to see any face but a white face in the classes. There was one black boy in my year. And now where I live is a total mix of culture and more people from other countries are coming here to settle. I don’t know whether the riots are as a result of culture or race or anything, I’m not well schooled in it enough to debate that. But I certainly think it goes some way in explaining how some groups of people are happy to destroy the place in which they live without feeling that it’s destruction of their home.

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